I know, I know, strange name. It's because the "batter" for these confections bakes in the oven before being formed into balls. I was intrigued by this recipe years ago as a young teen cooking from my mother's cookbooks, but never tried it, probably because our family already had a treasured traditional date ball recipe. This year, my favorite cooking newsletter, Cook & Tell, published the recipe. It's essentially the same as the one in my old favorite Farm Journal Homemade Cookies book, except it contains more dates. So I just had to try it.
One thing I love about Farm Journal cookbooks is the chatty tone of Nell B. Nichols, their food editor, and the interesting stories behind some of the recipes. The following is undoubtedly what made me want to try this recipe in the first place:
"A Missouri school teacher contributed this recipe. She says she makes the confection cookies every yuletide season. The teachers take turns providing candy daily for their lounge the week before the holiday vacation. Casserole Cookies disappear quickly, which is adequate proof of their popularity.
"You bake the cookie mixture in a casserole. A crust forms on top, but it disappears when you stir the hot cookies with a spoon. When mixture cools, you shape the cookies in 1" balls and roll them in granulated sugar. The white sugar granules glisten on the dark cookie balls."
Hungry yet? Here's the recipe:
1 cup sugar
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 8-ounce package chopped dates
1 cup flaked coconut
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. almond extract
Sugar for coating
Beat eggs well; gradually add 1 cup sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in nuts, dates, coconut and extracts and mix thoroughly. Pour into ungreased 2-quart casserole dish.
Bake at 350º for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and while still hot, stir well with wooden spoon. Let mixture cool, then form into 1" balls. Roll in sugar. Makes between 3 and 4 dozen.